Paula Deen in a public service announcement for Civitan International.
|Born||19 January 1947
Albany, Georgia, United States
Deen resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she owns and operates The Lady & Sons restaurant with her sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen. She has also published five cookbooks. Though married in 2004 to Michael Anthony Groover, she continues to use the surname Deen from her first marriage professionally.
Paula Deen was born in Albany, Georgia. As documented in the Food Network special Chefography and on her official Web site, both her parents died before she was 19 and an early marriage ended in divorce. Deen claims to have suffered from agoraphobia and would not leave her house. She is a proficient Southern cook, a talent she used to help her deal with her condition. In 1986, she felt well enough to take a job as a bank teller. After that she and her sons moved to Savannah. In 1989, she divorced Jimmy Deen, to whom she had been married since 1965, and expanded her cooking experience into a catering service. She made sandwiches and other meals, which her sons Jamie and Bobby delivered.
The Bag Lady, as the business was named, was successful and soon outgrew her kitchen. On January 8, 1996, Deen opened her own restaurant, The Lady & Sons, in downtown Savannah, on West Congress Street. Within a few years, the restaurant moved to a larger building in Savannah's historic district. USA Today named The Lady & Sons the "International Meal of the Year," in 1999. The specialty is the buffet, which may include sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, deep-fried Twinkies, fried chicken, cheesy meatloaf, greens, beans, and creamed corn. Every meal comes with a garlic cheese biscuit and one of Deen's famous hoecakes. The restaurant is run by her sons when they are in town. The restaurant is a perennial favorite with Southerners.
Deen parlayed her fame into another restaurant, the "Paula Deen Buffet" at Harrah's Tunica Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. The entrance facade of the restaurant, which opened in May 2008, is modeled on Deen's home in Savannah and features Southern fare.
In 1997, Deen self-published The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cooking and The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cooking 2. Both cookbooks were filled with traditional Southern recipes, such as "Gooey Butter Cake" (also known as Chess Cake, a variation of a chess pie recipe). The cookbooks were very successful, and she has since published two more, written with help from Martha Nesbit. Deen has appeared on QVC and on The Oprah Winfrey Show (first in 2002 and then twice in 2007). Her story is featured in Extraordinary Comebacks: 201 Inspiring Stories of Courage, Triumph, and Success (2007, Sourcebooks). In April 2007, Simon & Schuster published Deen's memoir, It Ain't All About the Cookin'. She launched a lifestyle magazine called Cooking with Paula Deen in November 2005. which claimed a circulation of 7.5 million in March, 2009.
Deen's relationship with Food Network began in 1999, when her friend Erin Lewis introduced her to Gordon Elliott, who then introduced her to her current agent, Artist's Agency owner Barry Weiner. Elliott took her through the city for a series of Doorknock Dinners episodes. She also appeared on Ready, Set, Cook!. Deen was invited to shoot a pilot named Afternoon Tea in early 2001. The network liked it, and eventually gave Deen her own show, Paula's Home Cooking, which premiered in November 2002. Paula's Home Cooking was originally taped in Millbrook, New York at the home of Gordon Elliott, the show's executive producer. Deen mentioned in an interview aired on the March 13, 2006, edition of The Daily Buzz that the next batch of episodes of her show would be taped at her home in Savannah, Georgia. According to the first of those episodes, actual production at her new Savannah home began in November 2005.
Since then, Deen has been given two more Food Network shows, Paula's Party and Paula's Best Dishes. Paula's Party premiered on the Food Network in 2006 and Paula's Best Dishes debuted on June 8, 2008.
Deen also helped Pat and Gina Neely get their first Food Network show, Down Home with the Neelys. During the summer of 2006, her sons, Bobby and Jamie Deen, featured the Neely's Bar-B-Que Nashville location on their Food Network show Road Tasted. In September 2006, Paula ate at the Neely's downtown Memphis restaurant and was impressed. In January 2007, the Neelys were invited to appear on Paula's Party, which eventually led to the Down Home show. In July 2008, the Neelys would also take over Road Tasted from the Deen brothers.
In May 2008, Deen announced at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show that she had signed a deal to host a talk show beginning in September 2009.
In 2007 Deen found herself at the center of controversy when she became a spokesperson for Smithfield Foods. The controversy was because of Smithfield's poor records concerning labor issues and pollution problems. Deen remained steadfast in her support of the company.  
Deen remarried, on March 6, 2004, to Michael Groover (born 1956), a tugboat captain in the port of Savannah. Michael has two children, Michelle and Anthony, from a previous marriage. The wedding and preparation were documented by Food Network for a show aired in 2004.
Deen has one grandchild, Jack Linton, who was born August 21, 2006, to Jamie and his wife, Brooke.
Deen made her film debut in Elizabethtown, starring Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst. She played the aunt of Bloom's character, and her cooking was showcased heavily. The film premiered on October 8, 2005. A Food Network special, Paula Goes Hollywood, aired in conjunction with the film's premiere.
|2002–present||Paula's Home Cooking (television)||Host|
|2006–present||Paula's Party (television)||Host|
|2008–present||Paula's Best Dishes (television)||Host|